EXCLUSIVE: International rower Anastasia Chitty on GB, injuries & Tokyo 2020
The European Rowing Championships will take place in Racice, Czech Republic, this weekend. But one person that missed out is Anastasia Chitty. Sports Gazette spoke to Anastasia to find out why.
Anastasia Chitty is an up-and-coming name in the international rowing world.
A former Oxbridge Women’s Boat Race winner and junior international medallist for Great Britain, Anastasia has been part of the British Rowing fold since September last year.
Anastasia performed well enough in two trials over the winter to be part of the squad ahead of a summer of rowing including Henley Royal Regatta and the World Championships.
She has the ambition of representing her country at Tokyo 2020, but this took a setback recently.
“I’ve injured my chest wall, pulling a rib and causing swelling,” Anastasia told us (second from left, image below).
“It’s a bit complicated but it’s not taking too long. I’ve only been out of the boat for three weeks!”
Because it was a chest wall injury, Anastasia could not train intensely at first because she would get out of breath and stress that area of the body.
Yet the reason this healing process is so quick is the wealth of resources available at Caversham, the home of British Rowing.
These resources mean every type of injury possible in rowing has its own process of recovery.
Anastasia said: “As I had more time off the back, I could work on my core and other stuff in the weights room in the interim.
“I had an ultrasound scan to tell me what was going on and then an injection into the joint.”
Anastasia could then build up the rowing machine miles every day. However, even this is not for the faint-hearted, with the minimum distance being 3,000 metres.
“It’s a constant to use the rowing machine first because it’s stable and you can stop at any point,” Anastasia said.
“Once we get to 12 on the rowing machine then we can think about getting into a boat.”
Let’s leave that out there- ’12 miles’. That is the minimum number of miles you must be doing before allowed out on the water at British Rowing.
“Typically, we row twice a day but I’ve been rowing once,” Anastasia added. “Over the last two weeks, I’ve got myself back into the rowing programme.
“Also, because rowing is a team sport, you have to be confident you can do a whole session with a crew.”It’s a full-time thing to compete at the top level. It involves rowing two or three times a day, 18 sessions a week. ”
So rowing is, quite literally, back-breaking work but why can it cause injuries such as Anastasia’s chest wall swelling?
Anastasia said: “Rowing is a repetitive sport so each day we’ll take thousands of strokes. We tend to get loading injuries so any areas of weakness are at risk.
“To prevent this, we work on our shoulder, trunk and core stability, just making sure we can support the load.
“We’re connected to the boat by the handle and our feet, so that’s where the power is channelled and it can be vulnerable.”
As we’ve already said, Anastasia has the long-term aim of the next Olympics and the short-term aim of cementing her place in British Rowing. How has this injury affected her aims?
“In the immediate term, it has caused a setback,” Anastasia said.
“I missed out on final trials and I wasn’t ready for selection for the European Championships. I would have been aiming for selection into the eight.”
Despite missing out on the eight, Anastasia will travel out to Racice as a spare. Spares a sparsely used though, so it’s likely Anastasia will spend this on the rowing machine.
Anastasia said: “Hopefully in the long run it has flagged up areas I need to work on.
“In the process of rehab, we can make sure I’m going to be stronger and put things in place to make my body more robust for the future.”
The next opportunity for Anastasia to compete for Great Britain will be the Poznan stage of the World Cup and Henley Royal Regatta, both in June.
Anastasia remains positive: “We’ll see how it goes but I hope to put myself in the mix for those races.”
Positivity is vital to rowing. At this level, every minute of training counts and there’s a huge amount of commitment required in the pursuit of Olympic glory.
Anastasia said: “It’s a full-time thing to compete at the top level. It involves rowing two or three times a day, 18 sessions a week.
“We get three weeks after the World Championships and a few days over Christmas to see our families, so there’s a big commitment to the team.
“It means a great deal to me. I want to see how far I can take it and push myself.”
To find out how much it takes to be a rower, we spent 24 hours as an international rower with Anastasia. You can listen to it above!